Roster review: cornerbacks

Gold and Blue Nation

Oct 3, 2020; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers cornerback Nicktroy Fortune (11) celebrates after a missed Baylor Bears field goal during the first quarter at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

West Virginia enters the 2021 season a little thin in some areas on the defense, including at cornerback. Just one starter returns at the position but the Mountaineers do have some players with some experience with the program. They look to fill the starting role opposite of Nicktroy Fortune after Dreshun Miller entered the transfer portal in the offseason.

“Defensively, we’ve got to develop some depth in the secondary. That’s the issue right there,” the head coach said after the spring game.

The Mountaineers also welcome a new coach to the position, ShaDon Brown. Here’s a look at WVU’s corners:

Nicktroy Fortune — junior

Fortune made two starts at corner as a freshman before taking over that starting role full time in 2020. Last season, he finished with 35 tackles, a tackle for loss and three passes defended. He also made his first-career interception in a win over Kansas State. A loss at Iowa State saw a career-high 8 tackles for the RCB.

Coach Brown told Fortune this spring he wants him to play more aggressive, he thought he was playing a little cautious last year as he was focusing on not making mistakes. Fortune said he shifted his mentality after that conversation and has seen his confidence increase over the spring.

“My thing was to play with technique and play smart. I was kind of like tentative and timid just a little bit. But I knew going through the spring, the more practices and the more reps I got, I was naturally beginning to come into my own,” Fortune said. He added he knows the difference between playing aggressive and smart i certain situations.

Jackie Matthews — senior

After a pair of seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Matthews joined the Mountaineers in 2020. He saw action in all 10 teams and finished with three total tackles. Two of them came in the bowl game vs. Army. Matthews is likely going to be lining up opposite of Fortune at left corner this upcoming season.

“When we do individuals or one-on-one, I’m always making sure I’m watching Jackie so I can learn something from his game. Jackie is definitely somebody who we’re going to need and somebody that’s going to shock the world because he’s been playing at a high level,” Fortune said this spring of Matthews. “He’s holding his own and really looking good out there.”

He tallied two tackles and a pass break up in the spring game.

Charles Woods — redshirt junior

Woods joins the Mountaineers after spending the past three seasons at Illinois State. His freshman year, he played in 11 games, including three starts and recorded 16 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and a trio of pass breakups. As a sophomore, he started all 15 games at cornerback and tallied 48 tackles, 4.5 TFLs and four interceptions. He redshirted in 2020.

Daryl Porter Jr. — sophomore

He played in six games in 2020. He tallied one tackle, a pass breakup and an interception in the Gold-Blue game.

Naim Muhammed — redshirt sophomore

After playing at Fork Union Military Academy in 2018, Muhammed enrolled at WVU in January of 2019. In his redshirt season, he played in the final two games of the year against Oklahoma State and TCU and was used primarily on special teams. He appeared in a pair of games in 2020.

Muhammed impressed on the scout team for special teams and blocked four kicks this spring. He in the Gold-Blue game, he tallied two tackles, TFL and pass breakup.

Andrew Wilson-Lamp — freshman

Played receiver and defensive back at Massillon Washington High. As a senior, he tallied 19.5 tackles, a sack, three TFLs and eight pass breakups. He helped led his team to the OHSAA Division II state championship for the third consecutive season. Coach Brown said this spring he believes WIilson-Lamp could have an early impact on special teams this upcoming season. He registered three tackles in the spring game.

Departures:

Dreshun Miller entered the transfer portal as a grad transfer after the 2020 season. In his first and only season with the program, he finished with 32 total tackles, including 29 solo stops, and added an interception in WVU’s double-OT win against Baylor. In a starting role, he finished the year with a team-high eight pass breakups. He was named to Phil Steele’s All-Big 12 Fourth Team and earned Honorable Mention from the coaches and Pro Football Focus.

Other 2021 roster reviews:
Linebacker
Defensive line

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